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Dec 5, 2012

Max Planck Florida Institute Opens

  • The new Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience (MPFI)—the first institute of the Germany-based Max Planck Society to be located in the United States—opened yesterday in Jupiter, Florida. The Max Planck Society, which today has over 80 institutes, is one of Germany’s leading research organizations.

    The new institute, which cost $64 million and is integrated on a campus with the Scripps Research Institute and the Florida Atlantic University, aims to carry out research into fundamental brain processes to improve the chances of curing disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Ground was broken for the institute in June of 2010, and staffers had already begun moving in back in June of this year. There are now nine research groups at the institute in total, which are led by two directors, David Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., and Ryohei Yasuda, Ph.D. The areas they focus on include neural disorders, brain signalling, cortical circuits, neural plasticity, and digital neuroanatomy.

    The building is designed to provide nearly 5,400 square meters of laboratory space that will house wet and dry bench research, instrumentation labs, computational research, core imaging facilities and microscope suites, information technology services, and offices for researchers and support staff. The institute plans to increase the size of its workforce to 135 employees by 2015. According to Max Planck, the institute is expected to support the creation of more than 1,800 jobs, both directly and indirectly, in Palm Beach County over the next two decades and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity.

    “Our scientists have found outstanding local partners at Jupiter in the Scripps Research Institute and the Florida Atlantic University," Max Planck Society president Peter Gruss said. "Together with these organizations, our institute constitutes a high-performance neuroscience research cluster that will continue to excel.” Gruss also pointed out that the Max Planck’s presence in the U.S. was mutually beneficial. “On one hand, it will raise the profile of the excellent research conducted by German science in the U.S., the leading research nation. On the other hand, the U.S. commitment enables us to acquire outstanding researchers, who probably would not have come to Germany, for the Max Planck Society’s scientific community.”

    The institute received funding from both the Governor’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development’s Innovation Incentive Fund ($94.1 million) and Palm Beach County ($86.9 million), $60 million of which was dedicated to the construction of the new research facility. In addition, Florida Atlantic University contributed to the project with a 50-year rent-free lease on the six-acre site (valued at $6.3 million) and the Town of Jupiter weighed in with $260,000 in waived impact fees—a total dedication of almost $190 million.

    Max Planck was also one of a half-dozen institutions, including Scripps, to be offered a combined roughly $1.5 billion in tax incentives by the state of Florida and its localities in return for building new facilities in Florida.


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